Archive | April, 2010

Seriously, Cheesecake Factory People–Seriously? Are You Trying to Kill Us?! Or Homemade-by-the-Light-of-the-Moon Nutella Cheesecake

30 Apr

Nutella cheesecake

Hello, dense, creamy Nutella cheesecake. I garnished him with lightly sweetened sour cream, a swoosh of Nutella, a dusting of cocoa powder, and some chopped up mixed nut brittle. That dark part at the tip is part of a Nutella swirl.

Friends, I have recently discovered BJ’s.  No, not that kind of BJ.  Get your mind out of the gutter, people.  For those of you who don’t know, BJ’s is one of those buy-in-bulk membership warehouses like Costco and Sam’s Club.  There is one close to our house, and we went and checked it out, trying to decide if the savings would cover the cost of the membership.  The answer is Yes.  We’ll make that back in a month or two in coffee savings alone.

So, we went ahead and Joined Up, and so far we’ve been pleased.  So far.

We have two groups of guests staying at our house this weekend.  The Beloved’s oldest friend (meaning they’ve been friends the longest, not that the friend is 114) and his wife (who is also not 114) are joining us tonight as a stopover between Florida and Maryland.  Then tomorrow, Jane and Howard, my esteemed parents, will be coming and spending Saturday night with us.  We feel like innkeepers.  This weekend, anyway.

For tonight, we’re having Vegetabletarian Fare, because Betty happens to be a Vegetabletarian.  Her favorite dessert in the universe is cheesecake.  That alone makes her Okey Dokey in my book.  Add to that that she is an amazing gardener and landscaper person and has a cool Israeli accent, and you have one keen wife-of-Beloved’s-oldest-friend.  I figured that I would Avail Myself of BJ’s vast selection of goodies and purchase cheesecake from them.  I know what you’re going to say–I should have just gone ahead and made one from scratch, but with all the Inn keeping and cleaning and writing and What Not, I figured that a sampler pack o’ cheesecake made by The Cheesecake Factory people would certainly suffice.

But first, I looked at the ingredient list.  It was made up of about 15 lines of small ingredient-list-sized print which were all about 5 or 6″ long.  It was probably 9 squared inches of ingredients.  That’s a lot, considering that there are really only five or six ingredients in a Normal Cheesecake.  Even allowing for “raspberry puree” in the raspberry cheesecake and other add-ins, the ingredients should have taken up no more than 2 square inches.  So, I squinted and read them More Closely.  And guess what?  Right there on the side of the package was listed High Fructose Corn Syrup.  Dun dun duuuuuuunnn.

Really?! I was Annoyed, to say the least.  I mean, you’re called The Cheesecake Factory.  That’s your whole blooming raison d’être right there.  And what do you do?  You take something Good and Pure and Decadent, and you cheapen it, literally, in so many ways.  For shame, Cheesecake Factory people.  For shame.  You don’t even get to be called The Cheesecake Factory anymore.  From now on, I shall refer to you (if I do refer to you) as The Stupid Stupid Factory.  So there.

Anyway, I of course needed a Plan B.  Plan B could’ve been to just serve cheese and crackers and call it a day, but it was for Betty, and I did not want to disappoint.  So, with an I Know What I’m Gonna Be Doing Tonight sigh, I purchased Ye Olde Sixe Packe of cream cheese and some eggs.  I was just planning on making a plain cheesecake when I passed the Nutella.  The large jars of Nutella.  And they spoke to me.  They said, “We know you’d rather watch Bones tonight, but we’re here for you.  Use us in your cheesecake as consolation that you have to make one at all.  Mix us into the batter.  Swirl us in.  Top it with us.  We are here to make your cheesecake making better.  And less Onerous.”  Not that I generally mind making cheesecake, mind you.  It’s just that I didn’t really want to on top of Everything Else.  So, I allowed myself to be swayed by the Siren Song of the Nutella and reached out as if in a dream, choosing the jar that I perceived to be Most Eager to be Helpful.  And I took him home.

Now, I’ve never made Nutella cheesecake before.  This did not make me nervous, however.  I went forth into The Hinternet and discovered a Plethora of references to Said Dessert as well as recipes for making one.  But most of them called for one or one and a half pounds of cream cheese.  And only a couple of eggs.  And I didn’t want no Stinkin’ Short Cheesecake.  I wanted a tall and proud cheesecake.  So, I just modified the recipe right there on the cream cheese box.  The one that starts with FIVE blocks, or Two and One Half Pounds of cream cheese.

I know that I should have been well behaved and used my scale and taken notes and measured and stuff, but I had a sort of Devil-May-Care attitude about the whole process–I mean, I decided that if I couldn’t watch Bones that I was not going to measure (self-defeating, much?!), so I kind of free-formed it.  After all, cheesecake is a custard, so making sure I had enough eggs to make it set up was the primary concern.  As long as my thickening power was there, I could afford to play a bit.  And with four eggs, I figured that I was safe.  So, here’s what I did:

No-Bones Nutella Cheesecake
For the Crust

  • about 20 of your favorite crispy/crunchy cookie, or whatever you have at home.  I had TJ’s cinnamon grahams.  Not the best choice, perhaps, but it was what I had.
  • melted butter
  • pinch of salt

If I were more dedicated, I would’ve used chocolate wafer cookies and ground hazelnuts.  But I’m not, so I didn’t.

For the Filling

  • 5 8oz packages of cream cheese, or 2 1/2 pounds, softened
  • 4 whole large eggs
  • about 1/2-1 teaspoon salt
  • about 1/2 cup of sour cream
  • roughly 3/4 cup of sugar–to taste, mainly
  • one large jar Nutella (I think it’s 26 ounces), divided
  • one teaspoon vanilla
  • about 3 tablespoons AP flour

To Make the Crust
You can whir up the cookies in a food processor, but I didn’t want to do a ton of dishes, so I put them in a heavy-duty freezer bag and rolled/bashed them with a rolling pin until they turned into fine crumbs. So do what you want.

Melt some butter–I think I used about 2-21/2 ounces.

Toss a pinch of salt into the bag with the crumbs.  Shake the bag.  Close it first, for what should be obvious reasons.  Then, pour in the butter and smoosh everything around until the crumbs are all buttery.  If you need a little more butter, go ahead and add some.

You can add a little sugar if you want, but just know that adding extra sugar to a cookie crust can result in Iron Crust That You Can’t Cut Through.  Because it caramelizes and turns all hard.  And then you break your fork.  Or your teeth.

Press the crumbs in an even layer over the bottom and a bit up the sides of a 9″ or 10″ spring form pan.

Bake it for about ten minutes at 350F.

Take out the crust and turn the oven down.  The lower, the better–but lower takes longer.  I turned mine down to 285F, but I would’ve gone to 250F if it wasn’t already dark outside.

To Make the Cheesecake Filling
Make Absolutely Sure that your cream cheese is very, very soft.  Don’t use the tub kind, though.  Let it sit out for a good hour before you bake.  Then, throw all the cream cheese in your mixer and mix on Low Speed for as long as it takes to get the cheese Completely Smooth.  You will need to scrape the sides of the bowl frequently, and you will become impatient.  Have a drink, and Simmer Down, because you can’t rush this part.  If you don’t get All the lumps out at this point, you never will.  Then you will have little white specks in your cheesecake.

In the spirit of Truth and Transparency, I must tell you that this last piece of advice falls into the category of Do As I Say, Not As I Do.  I usually do follow this advice, but it was late, and I was feeling rushy.  So, I do have a few wee specks of cream cheese in my cheesecake.  I can live with that.  This time.

Once your cream cheese is Lump Free, add the sugar, vanilla and salt.  Continue to mix on low speed.  You will be Tempted to turn up the mixer, but you’ll just be whipping air into your batter.  Then it will rise up in the oven and Crack.  Don’t let that happen to you.

Add the eggs, one at a time, until they’re all incorporated.  Add-mix-scrape-mix-add-mix-scrape-mix, etc.

At this point, taste the batter.  It should be a little less sweet than you want it to be, because the Nutella will further sweeten it.  Then, mix in half(ish) the jar of Nutella, also on low speed.  Add-mix-scrape-mix.  The Nutella flavor will be fairly mild, but it will be a lovely light chocolate color–kind of like hot cocoa from-a-box.

Taste for salt and sweetness, and add a bit more of each if it needs it.  Add-scrape-mix-scrape.

Pour half the batter into the prepared pan.  Put a couple of blobs of Nutella on top.  Add the rest of the batter, and blob on a bit more Nutella.  Then, take a knife and cut down through the batter to swirl the Nutella in.

Bake at whatever low temperature you’ve set your oven to for as long as it takes for the whole top to be set, the sides to be firm and the center to still wiggle.  It took me about 1:45 at 285F to get there.

When the cheesecake is done, turn off the oven and open the door a little.  Let the cake hang out in there for another hour.  Take the cake out and plop on the last of the Nutella.  Let it sit there for a minute or two until it gets all melty, and then spread it out with an offset spatula.  You can make it smooth or make it swirly-swirly.  I opted for swirls.

Let the cake sit out until you absolutely have to go to bed it reaches room temperature.  Refrigerate overnight, or at least eight hours to make sure it’s nice and firm.

Cut with a hot knife, and wipe the blade clean between cuts.

Or you could just start in the center with a big old spoon and eat it standing in the light of the refrigerator at 4am.

Either way, this is really, really good.  Creamy, dense, smooth, just-sweet-enough, full of Nutella-y flavor-y goodness.  I tasted it for you, so I know.

Oh, and I only missed five minutes of Bones.  The trade off was cream cheese bits in the cheese cake.  Fair trade.

I Am Here to Help. Please Help Me Help You.

28 Apr

Every few weeks or so, I get an email asking for help with a school project.  The request usually goes something like this: I have to interview someone who has the job I’m interested in.  Could you please answer a few questions for me? And I am happy to help them. After all, I’ve put myself out here in the Hinternets specifically to be a helper.  I always encourage folks to leave comments here on the blog or to email me.  Lots of folks take me up on the invitation, and I truly do my best to respond to requests completely and in a timely manner.  Occasionally something falls through the cracks, but a gentle nudging usually spurs me to action.

At any rate, I enjoy answering your questions.  I’m glad to be a Helper, and I’m always gratified when someone tells me that they’ve learned something from me.  The vast majority of the folks who contact me are Lovely People.  I have, of late, fielded several emails from folks who are either Less Than Lovely or just don’t know any better.  So, for their edification, and as a General Treatise Regarding Email Etiquette When Asking for Help, I give you these Rules to Live By:

  1. Make sure you have a reasonable email address.  Even if you use the handle sparkles94 or Snooki_Rules on twitter or IM, set up a free YourName@gmail or yahoo.com for correspondence with professionals.  And Lord help you if you use sparkles94 as part of your email address on your resume. It will be passed around and giggled at.  And then you might receive a stripper pole in the mail.  Just sayin’.
  2. Once you have a reasonable email address, write reasonable emails.  Check your grammar and spelling, and for the love of All God’s Creatures, please don’t use cutesy wallpaper or wee tulips and a handwriting font in your signature.  If you’re contacting a professional, approach them in a professional manner.  You are much more likely to be Taken Seriously.
  3. When asking someone for help, it is preferable to include your name in your request.  Pleases and thank yous also go a long way toward Fostering Good Will.  It’s generally a Good Idea to ask if the person has time to answer your questions and allow a good week or so for a response.  Many people are Very Busy, and while your project is a top priority for you, it most likely is not everyone’s top priority.
  4. Do Not send questions two days before your project is due.   See #3.
  5. Please make sure that your questions are specific.  Most folks will be much more likely to give a thoughtful response to “When was it that you first knew you wanted to enter the culinary field?” than “Why do you do this job?”
  6. The following questions, and I am quoting directly, are for various reasons never to be asked: “Could you get back to me ASAP?” “What is the hardest pastry to make?” and “How long before you started to make good money?”

If I sound tantrum-y and whiny, I blame lack of sleep.  But even Well Rested Jenni has her limits.

I really want to be a helper; that’s why I set up shop out here in the first place.  And I’m by no means the only one.  The Hinternet is full of helpful people, not the least of whom are listed over in the sidebar, so please be Pleasant and Respectful to your friends in The Hinternet.

Thank you very much.
I just found this Wee Child explaining how to have a tantrum.  After watching, I’m not sure I did it quite right.  What do you think?

I Always Go Nuts for Coffee and Doughnuts

23 Apr
homemade doughnuts

Hello beautiful doughnuts! (Click picture to go to the flickr photostream)

I made a rhyme.  I’m testing out the waters–considering becoming a country music songwriter.  Rhyming is important in the country music world. I’ve already got a title:  I Hope Grandpa Has His Cell Phone in Heaven.  What do you think?

So, I might be lying about becoming a songwriter, but I am not lying about the coffee and doughnuts.  I’m pretty particular about my doughnuts, actually.  As far as I’m concerned Krispie Kreme beats Dunkin Donuts, holes down.  I like a ridiculously light, yeast raised doughnut.  One that smooshes down so you can just about shove the whole thing in your face at one time.  Unfortunately for me, I think Krispie Kreme has the secret to making their little beauties locked in a vault somewhere, because I can’t seem to make a doughnut as light as they can.

But you know what?  If I am being Completely Honest with myself, I bet what I really love about KK’s doughnuts is the glaze.  I’m pretty sure that, given the opportunity to eat a naked KK doughnut, I prolly wouldn’t like it very much.  Here’s why: they taste like sweet plus lightly fried.  Subtract the sweet, and you end up with a mouthful of lightly fried.  I’m not sure that a whole face full of lightly fried is Particularly Appetizing.  Unless you’re at the fair.  Then all bets are off.

Anyway, we used to make lovely, flavorful doughnuts at the restaurant.  The dough is sort of a citrus-brioche type deal.  It is Very Flavorful and Wonderful.  When you finally fry this dough up, it tastes like Lightly Fried Yeasty Orangey Buttery Goodness.  Which is miles better than just plain old lightly fried.  Plus, you can roll them in powdered sugar, cinnamon sugar or dunk them in a light glaze.  You can serve them the way we did, with a cup of coffee that had vanilla and chocolate ice cream in it.  Mmmm.  Or, you could just dunk them in Ridiculously Yummy Chocolate Sauce.  You could even squirt some raspberry jam or some pastry cream in them with a pastry bag.  Then you’d have filled doughnuts.

However you decide to make them, you should really just go for it.  If you’re a doughnut fan, you won’t be sorry.  And if you’re not, bake the whole deal as a loaf.  Then you can make toast.  Or bread pudding. Okay, I’ll stop now and teach you how to make them.

Full of Flavor Doughnuts
Starter
The day before you want to make your doughnuts, mix up 12 oz water, 1/2 ounce of fresh yeast (or a heavy pinch/.15 ounces dried yeast) and 18 oz. all purpose flour in your mixer until it is smooth.  Put it in a greased bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and refrigerate it overnight.

Dough

  • all the starter
  • 3.5 ounces whole milk
  • 5 ounces sugar
  • 4 ounces fresh yeast (1.3 ounces dried)
  • 7 ounces egg yolks
  • .75 ounces kosher salt
  • zest of one lemon and one orange
  • 22 ounces high gluten or bread flour
  • 4 ounces softened butter

When you decide it’s time to make doughnuts, put the starter, milk, sugar, yeast, yolks, salt and zests in the bowl of your stand mixer.  Mix with the paddle attachment until the mixture is smooth.  Scrape the bowl often.

Once the dough looks dough-ish and you can’t see any stray ingredients floating around, switch to the dough hook.

Add the high gluten/bread flour and mix on medium speed until all the flour is absorbed and then about five minutes more.

Add the softened butter a little at a time until it is incorporated.

The dough will be very soft.  Don’t worry about it.  Put the dough back in a greased bowl.  Cover and let rise until very poufy.

This dough is pretty sticky, but if you want to make traditional doughnut-shaped doughnuts, put the dough on a well-floured surface.  Sprinkle some more flour on top, and then roll out to about 1/4″ thick.  Cut doughnuts out with a doughnut cutter.  Or make no-hole doughnuts by just using a round cutter.

If you don’t feel like Messing About with a rolling pin, just use a portion scoop to grab some dough about the size of a Ping Pong Ball.

Either way, let them rise, covered, for about fifteen or twenty minutes.  Then, fry them in 375F neutral oil until they are Doughnut Colored and Lovely.

Drain on paper towels for a few seconds before rolling them in the Sugary Substance of Your Choice.  If you’re going to be filling them, wait until they have cooled completely.  Then you can Fill Away.

Please try these little guys.  They’re a lovely weekend treat.  They’re also fun to make for friends.  You can cut the recipe in half if you want, but then you wouldn’t be able to make Day Old Doughnut Bread Pudding.  And that would be a shame.

Sunday Suppers (Monday Edition): Anything Between Two Tortillas Counts As Dinner

19 Apr
quesadilla

A traditional quesadilla, before I went and USA-sized it. (Click the photo for photo credit).

For dinner a couple of nights ago, I had considered making nachos.  I do enjoy a good nacho for dinner.  But then I saw two baking potatoes waving at me like the dolly and the tugboat from the Island of Misfit Toys, and they totally sucked me in with their vulnerable “we just want to be loved” act.  So, I threw them in the oven.  There’s probably some moral to that story, but we’re talking dinner here, people.

So, rather than having Nacho Fixin’s on tortilla chips, we had them on baked potatoes.  Them were good, too.  But then I was left with some vegetarian refried beans and some chili-no-beans that needed a home.  Enter tortillas–big old 10″ multigrain guys.  Delightful.  And just like that, the Leftover-Nacho-Fixin’s-Quesadilla was born.  I know, I know.  It’s not a traditional quesadilla.  Apparently they are always made with corn tortillas with nothing but some melting cheese in them, but here in Uh-Mer-Ka, we cannot leave Well Enough alone.  And I’m pretty much okay with that, especially when it comes to food.  Here, quesadillas have long been a staple of chain restaurant appetizers and can have anything shoved in them from shrimp to tofu to corn.

With that in mind, meet my decidedly Uh-Mer-Kin take on Quesadillas.

More Is More American Leftover Nacho Fixin’ Dinner Quesadillas
This is one of the few meals that I make that doesn’t have a whole lot of homemade parts.  Which is okay, because it’s easy.  And I try to buy Items that don’t have any strange ingredients in them.  Can you make them with Cheez Wiz?  Yes.  Would I?  Um, no.

  • 2 10″ multigrain tortillas
  • a wee bit of vegetable oil
  • about 1/4 cup each chili-no-beans and refried beans.  Or, just go with chili with beans.  Fewer cans to open, you know?
  • some shredded pepper jack cheese
  • sour cream
  • chunky salsa
  • guacamole
  • pickled jalapenos

First, heat up the ingredients that are going inside the tortillas.  For us, that was the chili and the beans.

Heat up a big 12″ cast iron skillet (or whatever kind of skillet you have) and then add some vegetable oil and smear it around with a paper towel.

Put one tortilla in the pan.  Spread on your heated ingredients in a thin layer–no more than 1/4″.  You don’t want a bunch of stuff leaking out of the sides.

Sprinkle on the cheese, and slap on the top tortilla.  Let the whole thing sit there for a couple of minutes, or until the bottom tortilla is a beautiful golden brown.

Flip the whole thing over with a big old spatula.  If you haven’t tried to shove too many ingredients in there, this should go Well.

Let the other side brown, pushing down on the tortilla just a bit to make sure the cheese melts.

Once the quesadilla is golden brown on the second side, remove it carefully to a large cutting board.

I spread the top of ours with thin layers of sour cream, salsa and guacamole and then topped the whole deal with pickled jalapenos.  You can do whatever you want with yours, though.

Then, cut the whole thing with a pizza cutter.  You could cut it into skinny little slices, but we cut our guy into six big pie wedges.  A delightful dining experience, indeed.  And fast.  And easy.

And there you have it.  You use whatever you have in the fridge.  Any kind of little pieces of meat and/or vegetables are fair game.  Pretty much as long as it’s good with cheese, it’s in.  I’m pretty sure the one hard-and-fast requirement for quesadillas–even US of A quesadillas–is cheese.  Toppings are entirely optional, but who wants to serve a naked quesadilla?  Load that puppy up.

I’ve Met A Mouthful O’ Sunshine, and You, Sir, Are No Mouthful O’ Sunshine

16 Apr

Last Friday evening The Beloved and I had dinner with his father, his brother and sister-in-law and their two grandchildren.  We went to a very cool restaurant in the very cool Mt. Dora, FL called Pisces Rising.  I thought that meant it would be lots of foods that change with the signs of the Zodiac with lots of patchouli-ed and Birkenstock-ed servers or something, but what it was was a very nice fish place.

I’m not here to talk about the dinner, although it was very good.  No friends, I’m here to talk about the dessert.  First of all, they had some very Olde Schoole Items on the menu, including table-side Bananas Foster and Strawberries Romanov.  While I enjoy Dinner and a Show, I didn’t want Chad* making my dessert.  Not that I have anything against Chad, mind you, but I’d rather have the dessert prepared from start to finish by the Pastry Folks in the back.

In retrospect, I should’ve gone Olde Schoole and let Chad at the propane burner, but the whole thing was his fault anyway.  Let me ‘splain.

When it came time for dessert, good old Chad brought us the menu.  Everything looked pretty good, honestly.  I decided against the Key Lime Pie, although it is one of my favorites.  I wanted something a little bit different.  I generally stay away from “Chocolate” desserts at restaurants, because with a very few exceptions, in my experience “Chocolate” just means Brown.  And then I saw the intriguing-sounding Mouthful O’ Sunshine Orange Cake.  I asked old Chad to tell me about it, and he actually said–out loud–in a snotty Chad voice, “Well, it won an award, so that should tell you something right there.”

Wowie, Chad.  What I wanted to say was, “For all I know, it won an award for the Worst Dessert Ever or Most Likely to Induce Vomiting,” but what I said–out loud–was, “Please be a bit more specific about the cake.  Does it really taste like a Mouthful O’ Sunshine?”

“Oh, yes,” says he. “It is very orangey with a hint of lemon.  I’d describe it as a very citrusy dessert, and it’s one of my favorites.”  So, I looked back at the menu where it said Our award winning recipe of white cake layered with orange liqueur infused frosting and decided to heed snotty Chad’s endorsement and order the Mouthful O’ Sunshine Orange Cake.

What he brought me several minutes later was an impressive-looking tall wedge of white cake with what looked like a thin-ish layer of a set orange curd atop the frosting on the top of the cake.  The side of the Mouthful O’ Sunshine was plastered with sliced almonds–no mention of them on the menu.  Sorry, allergic-to-almonds people.  No Mouthful O’ Sunshine for you. Next to the cake was a wee pool of fake raspberry coulis with three pulled white hearts that they made with what tasted like cream of coconut from the bar.  There was also some sort of Dream Whip squirted on the other side of the Wedge.  The frosting around the top and bottom of the cake was piped on with a big star tip, and the whole thing really looked rather nice.

But raspberry and coconut pulled hearts?  I think not.  Some candied citrus or a wee quenelle of orange sorbet would’ve been a better option to reinforce that whole Mouthful O’ Sunshine deal.  I started at the top, where the orangey curd-ish stuff was.  It was, indeed, very orangey and Mouthful O’ Sunshiney.  But beyond that thin layer of orange, there was nothing but white.  To call it vanilla would be rude to vanilla, which is one of the most complex and beautiful flavors ever.  So, it was white.  The cake had a lovely crumb, but it didn’t have enough salt or any sort of extract flavoring that I could discern.  It was, to say the least, bland.

I couldn’t quite put my finger on my issue with the frosting.  It was a sort of pale cream color, not overly sweet, and tasted of cream colored not overly sweetness.  I guess I have to take their word that there was some Cointreau or Grand Marnier in the frosting, but I honestly couldn’t detect any, and you know I ate a little unadulterated frosting just to be sure.  It also suffered from a Lack of salt, making it bland-ish as well.

I actually resorted to putting a little salt on it and dipping it into the fake raspberry/cream of coconut combo on the plate, thereby turning it into a Mouthful O’ Fake Raspberry and Cream of Coconut.  I even let The Beloved taste it, and he was all, “This don’t taste like no mouthful o’ sunshine I’ve ever had before.”  ‘Cept he used correct grammar.  “Exactly,” said I.

And that’s my sad dessert story.  I just hate to get excited about a dessert and then have it fail to live up to Expectation.

Now, onto the Instructive Portion of the post.

How To Make a Cake Taste Like a Mouthful O’ Sunshine

Fortunately, citrus flavor is very easy to shove into a cake.  First of all, citrus zest–orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, etc–is loaded up with intense citrus oil that actually tastes like citrus.  The Levitating Fish should consider investing in a Microplane if they really want their cake to taste like a Mouthful O’ Sunshine.

I’ve also found orange juice concentrate to be very orangey.  Go figure.  Maybe they could use some of that in their frosting.

There’s also no rule that says you can’t chop up an orange and add wee pieces of it to the batter or the frosting.  Because of the added liquid, you’d have to play with your proportions, but the flavor would be great.

I think they had the right idea with the orange curd-ish stuff on top, but they certainly could have used orange and/or lemon curd as the filling and just used frosting for the outside of the cake.

The cake was definitely an American-style butter cake, but if they had used a sponge cake recipe, they could have further upped the Sunshine Factor by adding citrus zest and then brushing or spraying on a citrus simple syrup–that would’ve been a great place to use an orange liqueur.

How about some thinly sliced oranges–skin and all–poached in a citrus simple syrup?

For some pictures of beautiful and very Mouthful O’ Sunshiney citrus flavor, check out these flickr pics:

Belgian White Chocolate and Seville Orange Cake

Aunt Lee Geok’s Orange Creme Cake

Gâteau du Bavarian Orange

Esther’s Orange Marmalade Cake–Here’s the recipe for this guy.

*Name changed to protect the snotty.

Due to Perseverence of Sisyphusian Proportions, I Give You PMAT Live! Episode 3c–Doin’ the Pretzel Twist: Before the Twist Or How to Make Pretzel Dough

14 Apr

Friends, after much gnashing of teeth and brandishing of Clenched Fist and cursing and muttering and Stomping Off to get a frosty cold Adult Beverage, I have finally managed to convert and upload the latest PMAT Live!

Episode 3c Doin’ the Pretzel Twist:  Before the Twist finds your Intrepid Heroine (moi) enlisting the aid of the Under Twelve Set to make pretzel dough.  Yes, Jackson of the Thank You Phone Call Without Coercion and his sister Sophie were my sous chefs and helped to scale out, mix and knead the beautiful pretzel dough.

Now, I’m the first to admit that the editing is less-than-smooth.  I mean, overall it’s o-kay, but I did manage to cut out a couple half-w0rds.  This is because we did the whole shebang in one take which lasted roughly one hour and ten minutes.  I cut it down to run in under ten, so those couple of half words are just lucky to be in the thing at all.  There are thousands and thousands of words that didn’t even get half in there.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy it.  Barring horror and woe, I’ll be back tomorrow to regale you with Tales of Orlando.  You won’t want to miss it….Listen to….the sound….of my voice….You won’t want to miss it…You are getting very….sleepy…

(See you tomorrow).

AAAAAAhhhhhhhhrrrrrrgggggghhhhhhh!

7 Apr
the scream

Compared to me, this guy is positively giddy with joy.

Friends, I have two words for you:  The Horror.

I’ve been trying and TRYing to upload my brand new video, but it just isn’t happening.  Plus, I’m going out of town tomorrow and won’t even be able to try again until Tuesday.

As a Very Small consolation prize, I will tell you that we enjoyed a lovely, spring-like meal this evening of linguine, olive oil poached salmon and blanched asparagus in a light cream sauce.  It was most enjoyable.  But that’s the only fun thing that happened today.  Let me share a small scene of The Day:

Me:  Oh, yay, I shall now upload my fun pretzel dough video that I have been promising my Loyal and Much-Loved Readers/Viewers.

Evil Old Computer:  Not so fast, Missy.  I’m tired, and I feel like shutting down.

Me:  Please, EOC, don’t do that.  I shall weep and Gnash my Teeth if you do.

EOC:  I care not, soft-squishy human.  I hate you and your stupid little video.  I shall now make the Noise of Doom and show thee a Red X on the screen.  And maybe, just maybe, I’ll give you the option of letting the Overlords at Microsoft know what has happened.  And that’s a pretty big maybe…

Me:  Die, computer, die!I cannot begin to express to you the strength of my anticipation of the arrival of the Brand New Computer.  This will happen in a couple of weeks.  Please, pray that I remain sane until then.

I’ll be back on Tuesday, and I hope to Wow you with an Amazing Post.  But the way things are going, there probably won’t be a video.  Happy weekend, everyone.  Sigh…

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